August 2022
In 2022 we celebrate the 70th year of the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. We remain committed to building and sustaining a conservation legacy by working with our partners and constituents to conserve, protect and restore our soil, water and natural resources by providing technical assistance, implementing restoration projects, and most importantly through education.
Jersey-Friendly Yards
Education Programs & Resources
Jersey-Friendly Yards was developed by the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP), with funding from NJDEP. The Jersey-Friendly Yards website provides comprehensive resources and tools about landscaping for a healthy yard and healthy environment in New Jersey. The Ocean County Soil Conservation District and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County are partnering with the BBP to offer educational programs about how you can make your yard more Jersey-Friendly! OCSCD is also partnering with BBP on the NEW Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program.
Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program
Enroll in a NEW Certification Program for a Healthy Environment and Bay!
The Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) invites residents, schools, and municipalities in the Barnegat Bay watershed to enroll in a new environmental stewardship program. The Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program guides property owners in landscaping practices for a healthy environment and recognizes them as protectors of the Barnegat Bay. The BBP received a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to develop this new Certification Program. Ocean County Soil Conservation District is working with BBP as a subcontractor on this grant project.
Most of the water pollution in the bay is coming from the land areas that drain into it. Participants in the Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program will learn how to use land stewardship practices to reduce sources of pollution, conserve water supplies, and create valuable habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. The BBP’s Jersey-Friendly Yards website provides comprehensive resources and online tools for participants to use to achieve certification.
There are three separate certification tracks – one for Residents, one for Schools, and one for Municipalities – which are designed to complement each other from the individual to community level. Any resident, school, or municipality located within the Barnegat Bay watershed can enroll in a certification program. All 33 municipalities in Ocean County and portions of four Monmouth County municipalities (Millstone, Freehold, Howell, and Wall) lie within the watershed.
The many benefits to becoming certified include a healthy yard for people and wildlife, cost savings by using low-maintenance land care practices, cleaner water and a healthier environment for the entire community, the opportunity to be a local leader in environmental stewardship, and recognition for achieving certification.
Visit to learn more about the Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program. For answers to questions, email Karen Walzer, BBP Public Outreach Coordinator, at

One of 28 National Estuary Programs, the Barnegat Bay Partnership comprises federal, state, county, and municipal agencies, academic institutions, and business and community organizations all working together to help protect and restore the water quality and living resources of the Barnegat Bay watershed. OCSCD is a proud partner in this initiative! Photos: Fertilizer Runoff, courtesy of BBP; OCSCD Rain Garden and Residential Jersey-Friendly Yard by Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD.
Jersey-Friendly Yards 2022 Webinar Series
Back to Basics: 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard!
This year’s webinar series reminds us that a Jersey-Friendly Yard doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Start small and stick to the basics. Each program in this series ties-to one of the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard. Join us as we incorporate these basic components into our landscaping practices, resulting in a beautiful and healthy Jersey-Friendly Yard!
August 9 - Step 7: Create Wildlife Habitat in Your Jersey-Friendly Yard
All creatures need to eat, drink, hide from predators, take cover from harsh weather, and safely raise their young. Whatever the size of your yard, learn how you can transform it into a haven for wildlife.
Presenter: Kathleen Kerwin, Program Associate, Wildlife Conservation and Management Program with Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Pre-registration required. Photo: Nashville Warbler by Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD.
September 13 - Step 8: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in the Yard
Learn how to compost your yard waste in place! Stop sending leaves, grass clippings, and spent plants to the curb. Composting at home gives you the power of nurturing the soil that will provide you with food, clean water, and air while treating yard waste right at the source. By practicing the art of composting, you can attract beautiful wildlife to your yard and create a healthy ecosystem. Composting can reduce greenhouse gases, preserve valuable landfill space, and save you time and money; in a few words, it is a great way to improve our environment and go on a path of sustainability. Pre-registration required. (Photo: Compost piles, by Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD)
Girl Scouts Can Earn the Gardener Badge
Using Jersey-Friendly Yards Tools & Resources
Girl Scouts Can Follow this Step-by-Step Online Guide Created by OCSCD Intern, Gabriella Marzella, to Earn their Gardener Badge!

In Fall 2020, OCSCD Intern, Gabriella Marzella, combined the necessary steps for earning the Junior Girl Scout Gardener Badge with the online tools and resources of the Jersey-Friendly Yards website to create a step-by-step guide for Scouts. Gabriella also created a Leader Guide that provides background information and detailed instructions for Troop Leaders to help them guide their Scouts through the process. With the help of website designer, Lisa Mazzuca, of On Your Mark Design & Graphics, Gabriella's ideas have come to life on OCSCD's website.
Girl Scouts are required to complete 5 steps to earn the Junior Gardener Badge: 1) visit a garden 2) explore garden design 3) learn how to choose garden plants 4) experiment with seeds 5) help grow a garden. Gabriella matched the Jersey-Friendly Yards tools and resources with these required steps and developed a comprehensive, inquiry-based and interactive program that immerses the girls into the world of gardening using Jersey-Friendly Yards.
Gabriella also created the online "Gardener Gab" character to lead the Scouts through their garden journey as they work to earn their Gardener Badge. Gardener Gab guides the girls through a variety of fun and educational activities, videos and projects. Scouts are introduced to New Jersey public gardens and New Jersey ecoregions. They learn about various growing conditions including sunlight, soil and water availability. They explore the differences between native plants versus non-native and invasive plants. Scouts learn how to germinate seeds, design gardens for wildlife, and much more! Different activities are designed to be completed either independently, in pairs, small groups, and as a Troop.

Scout Leaders - get started today and help your Junior Girl Scouts earn the Gardener Badge. Need help? Contact Becky Laboy, Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD.
Partner Projects
New Jersey Bay Islands Initiative
Representatives of over a dozen organizations and agencies gather at Lower Little Island after spending the morning visiting several bay islands. (Photo by Krystal Aguilar)
The allure of the Jersey Shore is not limited to sandy beaches and ocean waves. The back bay area is a playground for kayakers, clammers, boaters and birders, and offers myriad opportunities to explore and enjoy the salt life.
Over the past decade, studies completed by the Barnegat Bay Partnership and other academia have indicated that many of our back bay islands are succumbing to recreational boater activity, intensified storms and sea level rise, resulting in degradation and abatement of these important natural structures. These erosive forces compromise the integrity of bay islands, which drastically affects the health and resiliency of the entire bayshore ecosystem. (Marsh erosion, photo by Kristin Adams, PSM, Erosion Control Specialist, OCSCD)
The contributions to community resilience and storm surge protection that the bay islands offer is essential, and witnessing the loss, in 2020, local community members, organizations and agencies across the region took action and formed the New Jersey Bay Islands Initiative (NJBII). The goal of NJBII is to protect, restore and enhance the bay islands’ ecological functionality through an “islands system” management approach. Virginia Rettig, Manager of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Angela Andersen, Sustainability Director for Long Beach Township and Manager of the LBT Marine Field Station, are spearheading NJBII.

NJBII partner, The Nature Conservancy, has developed an online tool called the NJ Bay Islands Restoration Planner (NJBIRP) which can be used by practitioners to plan island restoration projects from the Metedeconk River, south to Absecon Inlet.
On June 30th, twenty-seven members of NJBII gathered for a field trip to visit a few bay islands and possible sites for future habitat enhancement and restoration projects. The caravan of 6 boats launched from Beach Haven and headed north to West Marshelder Island, to learn about its history and assess locations that would be well-suited for restoration projects. (Photo: Group assessing West Marshelder Island for future restoration projects, by Krystal Aguilar)
The group cruised by Mordecai Island and the different restoration efforts that had been installed there, including a breakwater design, geotubes and oyster castles, as explained by Mordecai Land Trust vice president and restoration coordinator Jim Dugan. The boats then traveled further south past the Long Beach Township Marine Field Station and by Clam Cove, a 22-acre parcel of coastal wetlands preserved by Long Beach Township in 2017. The trip concluded at Lower Little Island, an island privately-owned by Lori and Mark Morton. (Photo: Restoration devices implemented along the shoreline of Mordecai Island, by Krystal Aguilar)

To learn more about the New Jersey Bay Islands initiative, visit the Barnegat Bay Partnership's NJBII website. OCSCD is a proud member of NJBII; stay updated on OCSCD's endeavors to support this critically important initiative by visiting our NJBII Partner Projects webpage and blog.
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OCSCD's monthly newsletter is edited by Becky Laboy, M.Ed. Education Outreach Specialist. For information about education programs, events and projects pertaining to soil, water, native gardening and natural resource conservation, please contact Becky at For technical questions regarding soil disturbance and regulations pertaining to the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act, please call (609) 971-7002.